From left, Anna Maness, Taylor Shrader and Lauren Parten move their tassels over their mortarboards signifying that they have graduatted. The seniors on the Golden Tiger softball team could not attend the Women's College graduation last Friday because they were competing in the Southern States Athletetic Conference Tournament in Columbus, Ga.

Brenau University Holds Special Women’s College Commencement For Softball team Members

Six members of the Brenau University Golden Tigers softball team missed their graduation ceremony last weekend because they were off playing in the Southern States Athletic Conference tournament. So Brenau threw them another ceremony today – with all the academic regalia, pomp and circumstance as the original ceremony.

“It was the least that we could do,” said Brenau President Ed Schrader, who donned his ceremonial blue robe for the occasion. “These young women for the past four years have spent a lot of extra time representing our university around the country very, very well, both athletically and academically. Now, as we send them off to their careers outside the diamond, you can see from their grade point averages and their majors that they are prepared to lead.”

The graduating seniors on the softball team are Taylor Kelley of Toccoa, Ga., Taylor Shrader of Henagar, Ala., Lauren Parten of Hartwell, Ga., NAIA All-American Anna Maness of Seagrove, N.C., NAIA All-American Tiffany Schandera of Columbus, Ga., and Sally Duggan of Huntsville, Ala.  All six graduated from the 134-year-old Women’s College at Brenau – all with degrees in science programs.

Duggan, a biology major in the pre-physician assistant program, and Parten, a health science major, earned cum laude honors.

Two, the All-Americans on the team, pitcher Anna Maness and third baseman Tiffany Schandera, both nursing majors, stayed behind after the commencement ceremony, to participate in the “blessing of the hands” and pinning ceremony for the School of Nursing.

Kelley earned a degree and biology and Schrader was a psychology major.

Brenau’s intercollegiate athletes overall historically wrack up higher combined grade point averages than the rest of the student body.

However, this crop also had some amazing accomplishments on the field. All played together for the entire four years under Coach Devon Thomas. In that time the team compiled a won-loss record of 152 to 54, finishing the 2013 SSAC tournament ranked No. 17 in the nation.  Last year, the Brenau team missed playing in the national championship game by one run and finished No. 4 in the nation. The team finished 16th in the nation in 2010 and shared the conference championship title in 2009.

During the 2013 season, Coach Thomas notched his 300th career win at Brenau, but he pointed out that all six of the graduating seniors were around when he passed the 200-win milestone, too.

And, on their graduation day, the SSAC released additional honors for individual members of the group:

The NAIA #17 Brenau University softball team was honored with thirteen Southern States Athletic Conference postseason awards.

he six graduating girls on the Brenau University softball team, from left Tiffany Schandera, Anna Maness, Taylor Shrader, Lauren Patten, Taylor Kelley and Sully Duggan, wait for the begining of commencement services held for them in Pearce Auditorium Tuesday. The seniors on the Golden Tiger softball team could not attend the Women's College graduation last Friday because they were competing in the Southern States Athletetic Conference Tournament in Columbus, Ga.

he six graduating girls on the Brenau University softball team, from left Tiffany Schandera, Anna Maness, Taylor Shrader, Lauren Patten, Taylor Kelley and Sully Duggan, wait for the begining of commencement services held for them in Pearce Auditorium Tuesday. The seniors on the Golden Tiger softball team could not attend the Women’s College graduation last Friday because they were competing in the Southern States Athletetic Conference Tournament in Columbus, Ga.

Sally Duggan (Huntsville, Ala.), Anna Maness (Seagrove, N.C.), Lauren Parten (Hartwell, Ga.) and Madison Strickland (Gainesville, Ga.)  were selected as SSAC All-Academic Team members. Selections must maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher and complete two-terms of attendance.

Parten was also selected as Brenau softball team’s Champions of Character recipient. The Champions of Character award is selected based on the NAIA Champions of Character initiative which promotes respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

Elizabeth Schneider (Smyrna. Ga.) was selected as a member of the All-Freshman team. Schneider led the team in batting average (.417), RBIs (41) and slugging (.626%).

Maness was selected as East Divisional Pitcher of the Year. Maness, ranked 22nd in the nation in wins (18), also led the Golden Tigers in innings pitched (139), era (2.17) and complete games (16).

All-Division team selections included Duggan and Kelly. Duggan, a senior outfielder, was fifth in batting average (.364) and tied for third in RBIs (27). Kelly, a senior shortstop, was sixth in batting average (.361), tied for third in RBIs (27) and is known for her solid defense.

The SSAC First Team All-Conference team members include Maness and Schandera. Schandera was fourth in batting average (.390) and second in RBIs (35).

By time the team graduated, however, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics still had not issued bids to the national tournament next week, where all the new graduates hoped to end their college careers.

Although the Tigers fell in the double elimination tournament in the championship series for the toughest conference in the country, their late-season winning streak propelled them up five spots in the last national Top 25 NAIA coaches poll.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” said Shrader, whose name is pronounced the same as that of the university president, but spelled differently. “If we’d finished first or second, we would have won an automatic bid, but I think they NAIA is trying to get all the top 20 teams in, so we’re hopeful.”

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